Cyclists should be able to ride side-by-side, but know better on busy streets.
City Councillor Karen Stintz is pedaling in the right direction by trying to repeal a local bylaw requiring cyclists to always ride in single-file.
Stintz is fronting a motion at this week’s meeting of Toronto city council that would kill a bylaw from the former city of Etobicoke that says cyclists must ride in a line, rather than side-by-side.
If not repealed, the bylaw would apply across the city, as have other pre-amalgamation bylaws that weren’t challenged.
It reveals the low regard for cycling in suburban areas at a time when bikes were seen as toys for children and a nuisance to grown ups driving cars.
Stintz’s motion shows how far we’ve come in recognizing the value of bikes as legitimate transportation, and the right of cyclists to share the road.
There’s also the practical problem of how to enforce it, if the bylaw was applied across the city.
It is not unusual to see cyclists riding side-by-side on a quiet residential street, or even in the bike lines on busier streets, which are barely wide enough to accommodate them.
If rush hour traffic is heavy along a street with a bike lane, like Dundas St. E., for instance, it would be dangerous for cyclists to ride two abreast; a sudden swerve could send one of them into the path of a vehicle.
All but a few kamikaze riders, or those with a chip on their shoulder about taking up an entire lane, would recognize the danger of side-by-side cycling and slide into single-file formation when traffic is heavy.
Let’s give them credit for having enough sense to not put themselves in danger, but also concede that there’s no harm in it, as long at it is done near the curb and on quiet streets.
Anyone who’s ever cycled with a friend, talking while riding side-by-side, knows the value of it.
And for those who don’t, get out of your SUVs and give it a try.